Saturday, August 20, 2005

14th Sunday after Pentecost, Exodus 6:2-8, Aug 21, 2005

Pentecost 14 Exodus 6:2-8, ESV
“Hello, it’s me!”

Grace and peace to you from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It had been a long day at work and it was getting dark. But, I walked quickly to my car and headed for the hotel room. I was anxious to get there. The drive was only a few minutes and soon I was unlocking the door. Quickly, I entered the room and sat on the bed. I popped of my shoes and picked up the telephone receiver. “Hello,” I said to the Operator, “I’d like to place a credit card call.” That was life before I was a Pastor, life before the Seminary. My work took me to many cities all across the country, cities in California, Pennsylvania and Florida. I would be on the road two weeks out of every three. One think I looked forward to, was my daily phone call home. I couldn’t be home, but I could somehow still participate in the day’s activities, at least a little bit. I heard the phone ringing, “One… two… “, I counted. ”I hope she is home”, I said to myself. “Click”, went the phone when she answered. “Hello.” She said. “Hello, “ I replied, “it’s me...” That was all that was required and my wife knew who was calling. She knew it was “me”, her husband, currently residing in a hotel halfway across the country. She knew because I had made habit of calling. She knew because we had built a life together, and cared about what was going on with each other, even half way across the country. “Hello, it’s me” was enough to recognize the relationship that was there between us, even though many miles separated us.

Moses got a call like this one in our text today. He had been sent by God to bring the people out of Egypt. He had gone to Pharaoh and asked for the Israelites release. Pharaoh was not cooperating.

Instead of releasing the Israelites, he had given them more work to do. The Israelites complained to Moses, saying that it was his fault. They were saying that Moses had given Pharaoh a sword to kill them. Moses turned to God, “Why have you done this, Lord?” he said. God gave Moses a reply that was more like an introduction. It was a declaration of how to recognize God by what he had done in the past, and by what He was about to do. “Hello Moses, it’s me.” God replied. “It’s me, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s me, the God who promised them a land to call their own. It’s me, the God who made a covenant with them. It’s me, who is remembering that covenant right now.” God was telling Moses, that everything was under control; everything was proceeding according to God’s plan. It was a plan that would leave no doubt to who was God. It was a plan that would be remembered from generation to generation as an example of God’s loving rescue of his people.

Moses marveled at what God told him. Not only would he bring them out from under the control of the Egyptians, their slavery would be abolished, but it would be done in a way that showed God’s power. They would be rescued with an “outstretched arm” and by “mighty acts of judgment.” They would be rescued in a way that would identify God as the rescuer. Moses didn’t know the form they would take, but Pharaoh’s Egypt would be the target of these judgments. The judgments came, plague upon plague, bloody water, frogs, locust and lice. After each there was Pharaoh’s attempt to match, and Pharaoh’s unwillingness to do what God demanded. Each plague attacked one of Egypt’s gods. Each plague was a little bit harsher than the one before. The final plague stuck at Pharaoh himself, the most visible of Egypt’s gods. He was left a broken man, mourning the loss of his son. Through the plagues God made a release for the Children of Abraham, and they were allowed to leave. The outstretched hand of the God who said, “Hello, it’s me” had won them freedom from slavery.

It all happened just as Moses was told. But there was still more, God’s plan called for an even greater thing. He was going to have an adoption. The Israelites would now be God’s own people. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. “And then you will know,” continued God, “you will know that it’s me.” The newly adopted Children of God would march out of Egypt, and they would be lead to the land promised to Abraham. The time to fulfill the long awaited promise was now at hand. Moses and God’s people knew who had delivered them. They knew that their savior was God.

Some years later, on the dusty roads of Galilee, walked a carpenter, followed by twelve ragtag disciples. He was causing quite a stir. This man was also saying he could be identified by his actions. He too, had been sent to rescue the people from their slavery. He said he could be recognized by what he did, what he was doing and what he was about to do. “Hello, it’s me, the one who makes the blind see and the deaf hear. It’s me, the one who heals the sick. It’s me, the one who give “living water” to thirsty people. It’s me, who is remembering God’s promises right now.” The disciples scratched their heads, confused and disoriented. But, Jesus assured them everything was under control; everything was proceeding according to God’s plan. It was a plan that would leave no doubt as to who God was. It was a plan that would be remembered from generation to generation as an example of God’s loving rescue of his people.

The disciples marveled. Jesus rescues them from slavery, from the slavery of sin. He dies it in a way that would show the mercy of God. Jesus said, “Hello, it’s me, the one who rescues you with outstretched arms. It’s me, who takes the judgments you deserve, upon myself. It’s me, who dies here on this cross for you.” Jesus rescues in a way that show that God is the rescuer. His death on that cross broke the bonds of sin on God’s people. His resurrection broke the power of sin forever. Sin kills, but Jesus makes a resurrection that is ours. Sin and death are vanquished, and the Children of God were allowed to live. The outstretched arms of the God who said, “It’s me” has won freedom from sin and death.

And there was more. God’s plan called for an adoption. “I am going to my Father to prepare a place for you. I will return to take you home. And then the whole earth will know,” continued Jesus, “that it’s me.” Go and make disciples of all nations…,” he said. And the newly adopted children of God marched out and filled the earth with the Good News that people could know God through Jesus Christ. The time for the fulfillment of the age-old promise was at hand. The disciples knew who had saved them. The disciples knew that Jesus was God.

God is introducing himself again here in this place today. If you listen you can hear him say it again. “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hello, it’s me. I have come to be with you.” His presence assures us that the rescue he won so many years ago is our rescue also. When sin makes us slaves, when we feel powerless to break its hold on us, when we confess, “that by nature we are sinful and unclean…” We come here to listen and hear Christ’s forgiveness pronounced through the lips of his servant, “I forgive you. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And God says again “Hello, it’s me.” We approach his table, prepared in this place. “Hello, it’s me.” Our Lord says again, “Given for you for the forgiveness of your sins. This is my body. It’s me. This is my Blood. It’s me.” This is God again assuring us that everything is under control. Everything is proceeding according to God’s plan. He makes sure we have not doubt about who God is and what He does for us. In this plan there is no doubt about who God is. He frees us from sin in a way that shows us his loving kindness. It is a plan that we remember and tell our children and they tell their children. It is an example of God’s loving rescue of his people.

And there is more. We are God’s children through and adoption. He speaks to us in the same way he spoke the Israelites in Egypt. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burden of [sin]. Our adoption is sealed with water and God’s Word. “Hello, my newly adopted child, I baptize you in my name, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Hello, it’s me.” And right there God makes a promise to be with you. He promises that no matter what happens in your life, weather it seems good or bad, weather it is pain pleasure, it is all for your benefit… all to draw you closer to himself. And he even places you in a family of other adopted children. Just look around you see your adopted brothers and sisters. You can see the loving kindness of God sitting right next to you. These are God’s hands, feet, and voices for you. These are the ways God cares for and encourages you. You are how God cares for and encourages them. “Hello, it’s me.” God says through you.

God’s greeting is for us, but it isn’t just for us. God wants to be known by all people. There are many who are still groaning under the burden and slavery of their sin. He has done all that is necessary for them to be set free. Christ sends his “Hello, it’s me” through you. As you live and work God gives you the opportunities to speak about God’s salvation through Jesus. He wants you to speak God’s introduction through your words and actions. He doesn’t expect you to save them. He’s already done that. All you have to do is bring His greeting to them. “Hello, it’s me. I have rescued you with my outstretched arms.” Through God’s Word, through the story about what He has done to rescue them, they’ll know its God who can and will save them, too. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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